‘Simpsons’ in three-peat overseas

Homer rakes in more international d'oh

It’s going to be a while before Homer comes home.

20th Century Fox’s “The Simpsons Movie” out-laughed the competition overseas for the third straight weekend, continuing to beat out behemoths “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Transformers.”

Overall, the summer boom at the foreign box office has begun to slow as the end of the sesh nears, although the Aug. 10-12 frame was still up 20% over the same period last year.

Among new entries, Universal’s foreign launch of “The Bourne Ultimatum” saw first-place finishes in Indonesia, South Africa, Taiwan and Thailand on its way to $3.8 million at 350 playdates for an impressive $10,857 per-location average. Pic is tracking 58% ahead of “The Bourne Supremacy,” which grossed $112 million overseas. “Ultimatum” next launches in Spain and the U.K.

For the Aug. 10-12 frame, “Simpsons,” based on the irreverent television series, racked up $23.2 million from 5,806 playdates in 59 markets for a cume of $230 million. Toon saw respectable declines in the 50% range.

Before the movie opened, veteran exhibs and distribs abroad couldn’t agree on how “Simpsons” would perform, since it was a U.S. TV spinoff. They also questioned the wisdom of Fox going up against robot actioner “Transformers” and Potter.

Fox’s move has more than paid off. Like many other Hollywood pics, “Simpsons” is on track to make more overseas than Stateside. As of Aug. 12, the pic had grossed $382 million worldwide, including a domestic take of roughly $152 million.

With no new major contenders in Germany, “Simpsons” was back on top in its third frame as Teutons continued to turn out for Homer and family. Film took in $3 million from 830, down 41% from the previous week, for a total of $30 million.

“People are really enjoying ‘The Simpsons’ and are giving it great word of mouth,” noted one local exhib, adding that the film, and the series that spawned it, “have a lot of fans, young and old alike.”

The boffo performance has made “The Simpsons Movie” the territory’s top animated film this year, surpassing “Shrek the Third,” which cumed $26.4 million in Germany.

“Simpsons” shouldn’t have too much trouble as it goes for its fourth straight win, aided by launches in Brazil, Holland and Russia.

“Simpsons” is even playing well in markets where the television show isn’t in heavy syndication, including France. Pic held nicely in Gaul for the Aug. 10-12 frame, making $2.6 million, a decline of only 35%.

But the bigger winner in France was Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” taking in an astounding $25 million-plus on 723 in its first 10 days. Toon, about a rat longing to be a chef, is set in Paris.

For the Aug. 10-12 frame, “Ratatouille” showed solid legs overall, with a 20% decline to $19.2 million from 3,687 in 27 markets. In France, the toon was down only 8% for a first-place dish of $9.3 million. Japan was off just 10% to $2 million. Foreign cume is $120 million, with the film having opened in less than half its markets. Disney is waiting until fall for many of its key markets, hoping to replicate the success enjoyed by Pixar title “The Incredibles.”

“Ratatouille” came in third internationally behind “Simpsons” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

“Phoenix” grossed $21 million from 8,200 prints in 61 markets, declining 16%. Film hit the $550 million mark internationally over the Aug. 10-12 frame, topping “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the only other Potter pic to be released in the summer,” by $10 million.

Expectations are that “Phoenix” could join the three other Potter pics in bringing in more than $600 million at the overseas box office. Worldwide cume is already $822 million, or No. 15 on the list of top-grossing films.

“Transformers” came in No. 4, grossing $16.3 million from 5,239 playdates for a decline of 47% and a cume of $328 million. It enjoyed a solid second frame in Japan, where its haul was $3.4 million.

In Germany, though, “Transformers” fell more than 56% in its second session to $2.55 million from 769 locations for a $10.2 million cume.

Still, “Transformers” has performed well above forecasts internationally.

Fox’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” came in No. 5 internationally for the Aug. 10-12 frame after falling off the radar somewhat. Pic returned to take $11.4 million from 1,185 runs, led by a $4.8 million launch in France, $3.9 million bow in Spain and a $1.5 million opening in South Korea.

Pic’s cume is $122.3 million, in line with expectations and just behind the film’s domestic total.

Adam Dawtrey in London, David Hayhurst in France and Ed Meza in Germany contributed to this report.

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